LC's Take: Do You Believe? I Do!

Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2012 in Features

LC's Take: Do You Believe? I Do!

A fairy ring of mushrooms. The fungus that created this ring is much larger than the ring of mushrooms, and lives underground. The largest mushroom colony ever found lives in Oregon and is over 2,200 acres in size.

by LC Van Savage

Some years ago, my dear husband “Mongo” and I spent some blissful time in the North Woods in a rustic cabin facing an enormous, shining lake. To our delight, we got to watch stunningly beautiful dawns, sunsets, moonsets, and carpets of stars so thick and close we could all but sweep them into our hands as if gathering glittering berries from celestial meadows.  

Mongo and I walked a lot, explored and laughed and played. We were paradisically located, and we knew it, and you’re asking if that’s a real word, right? Probably not, but necessity is the mother of invention, and it’s necessary, I’m a mother and I just invented it.

Anyway, it was lovely to commune with nature again, although some of it, OK lots of it, I’ll confess, was from the interior of our car.  And seeing certain occurrences of nature caused Mongo and me to recall a number of beliefs all kids have had about nature over the years; ones I still have and fully intend to keep.

It began when we were driving past a field and Mongo pointed and said “Look over there. See that fairy ring?”  Sure enough, there it was, a ring of snowy white mushrooms on darkly shaded grass. They were beautiful; pure puffy white, like tiny soft clouds, and they quite nearly made a full ring. Mongo explained that this happens because of some mushroom explosion or something, spewing out seeds in a circle, but he of course was just so wrong, and believe me, in Mongo’s lexicon the words “I’m wrong” really do not appear. Ever.  

You see, every thinking person knows the ring is put there by fairies on crisp, early fall nights, and it’s common knowledge they make those rings of fungi so that they may have a place to dance, and dance they do, right in the center of those mushrooms. It’s true! I saw it happen in the moonlight one October night in my childhood when I’d sneaked out of my home to watch. And could they dance! Twirling, spinning, leaping and landing, a little jazz and tap altho the tap sounds could not be heard too well on that soft, dark ground because fairies' shoes, as we all know, are soft silver or golden slippers. Circles of white mushrooms discovered on lawns in early mornings are incontrovertible proof that a glorious fairy dance had happened there the night before, and it was lovely and utterly magical.

Remember snake spit? That’s the small, white, bubbly mass you see stuck to a blade of wild grass in a field. I know there’s some safe, boring scientific explanation for that occurrence too, (doubtless Mongo’s got one, but I won’t ask …) but everyone knows the stuff is snake spit, and so do the snakes that put it there in the first place. I saw one do it once in the summertime when I was a child. A green snake. He suddenly pulled the first half of his body upright, made his jaws into an O, took a deep breath and hocked out that ball of spit onto a tall blade of grass and quickly slithered off, his job done. I remember how shiny it was in the July sunlight, a mass of small, glimmering, rainbow bubbles. Beautiful.

Toadstools are my favorites. Know why these beautiful, softly velvet things are called that? Because, of course, toads, when no humans are near, actually sit on them, just as we humans perch on kitchen stools. Yes, honestly! They do! The toads sit atop these most beautiful of botanical specimens and they gossip and schmooze together, but alas they hop fatly away when they hear humans approaching. Sometimes they even sing from the tops of those stools, but only the very old songs. If a summer rain suddenly happens, the toads simply jump off the stools which then become their umbrellas,  and they stay dry beneath them while continuing their songfests or conversations.  You have to listen very carefully to hear them. As a rule, toads are well-mannered beings, and never raise their voices.

Now about the trolls who live under bridges. They’re pretty fascinating creatures. Scandinavian, largely. Sometimes they live in caves, too. But what’s really nifty about those guys is that they can be either giants or dwarfs, and apparently they can switch sizes up and down whenever the mood hits. Imagine! But I’m sorry to say, Mongo and I didn’t get to see any trolls on our trip, although we certainly looked for them. Well, I certainly looked for them. 

We did see a lot of moss on the trees, but it wasn’t all on the north side and it wasn’t moss anyway. It was lichen which rhymes with liken but looks like it should rhyme with kitchen.

Rabbit’s feet and lightning bugs, ladybugs and yellow spiders, the Little Folk who live amongst the roots of trees and steal things from us when we’re not looking, the wisdom of owls, snowmen and snowladies who dance in the winter moonlight when everyone’s gone to sleep, red moons and moons with rings around them,  fat juicy green tomato caterpillars, crickets, grass-blade whistles, angels fluttering secretly  in the woods, skunk cabbage, lunar moths, wild onions, four-leaf clovers, orange newts, dowsing sticks, eyes in potatoes, buttercups, box turtles, crows, bullfrogs, bluebirds, leaves showing their underbellies to warn us that rain is coming. There are so many mysteries, myths, tales and magic about the things of nature. Most are true. I certainly believe in every single one of them. They simply enchant me and I refuse to disbelieve. And why should I?  These folk tales add delight to life. Lots. And there sometimes doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of delight out there.

Did Mongo and I get to see all of these magical, mystical wonders on our short trip to and through the North Woods?  No, I’ll admit, not all. But there’s a good chance most of them saw us. Do you see them when you go out into nature? Do you listen for them? Do you stay silent and still so they won’t run away or disappear from you? Do you believe? You don’t? Why not?

Seriously, why not?

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